Today is major league baseball's trade deadline day. There are going to plenty of moves made, some minor some potentially major, and I'll tell you a little about all of that in this piece. I'll also break down how two players that fantasy leaguers want to build around have done this season (one is the Cubs' first baseman, the other a Phillies' outfielder). I'll also talk about a potential change in the Angels bullpen and how an old man with the Tigers is continuing to get it done. Finally, what happened to the power hitting first baseman of the Twins that used to be an MVP caliber hitter?
TRADE DEADLINE NEWS
I will be updating my trade deadline diary all day at MLB Trade Day 2013.
ANTHONY RIZZO REVIEW
When the Anthony Rizzo contract was announced I said it was a mistake since Rizzo was a very talented but relatively unproven player (the Cubs signed the 23 year old first sacker to a seven year, $41 million deal). I get it, the Cubs wanted cost certainty and to lock up a player for a reasonable price that they believe can be a star, but still, I thought it was a lot of scratch to hand over to such an unproven guy. Let's check in with Rizzo after 105 games.
It's awfully blah right now. Check out the slash line: .239/.334/.431. Pretty much league average stuff. Oh, and has he been slumping of late batting .216 over his last 52 games. FIFTY TWO GAMES of a sub .220 average. No one wants to see that. He's also been horrible on the road this season (.218/.298/.393) and he's been a fish out of water at night (.218/.312/.384 in 54 games).
He has 14 homers and 58 RBIs in 397 at-bats. He had 15 homers and 48 RBIs last season in 337 at-bats. Clearly no step forward. Also, 30 homers and 115 RBIs in 862 career at-bats isn't what anyone really wants to see.
He has upped his walk rate this season and as a result his previously league average BB/K ratio is up to 0.61.
He's upped his fly ball rate. Lats season it was a speedster like 30 percent. This season that mark is up to 48 percent. The league average is about 35 percent so his current rate obviously isn't that huge a number, but it's certainly going in the right direction.
Overall there is a little growth here but not much. The final couple of months this season will be key in determining his value for 2013. Speaking of that...
DOMONIC BROWN – NOT READY
Domonic Brown is on the DL with a concussion, and it sounds like he will not be ready to go the first day he is eligible – Thursday. Brown had a good spring, and he carried that right over into the regular season as he's gone deep 24 times with 69 RBIs and eight steals in 99 games. The assumption is that he has finally arrived. Some cold water on the party.
Brown is hitting only .271 despite all his success. He owns a career .252 average in 806 at-bats.
His 0.33 BB/K ratio this season is below the league average.
His .316 OBP this season is nearly identical to his career mark of .315. Again, this is below the league average.
His 22.0 HR/F ratio is a huge mark and more than his 2011 (9.4) and 2012 marks (9.8) when combined. It's questionable whether or not he could continue along at this level.
He's been great thus far but his 2014 value will be largely dependent on how he does once he returns from his concussion.
FRIERI DOWN AND OUT?
Ernesto Frieri has 25 saves this season with a 13.20 K/9 mark. Elite marks. However he's also walking a ghastly 5.20 batters per nine innings and after allowing five homers in his first 96.2 big league innings he was punished for nine homers last season and that mark is up to eight this season in 45 innings. That's an ugly 1.60 HR/9 mark in 2013 and one of the main reasons his ERA is 4.20 this season. At the same time his ERA was 2.76 as recently as July 22nd. What? Yeah, he's been brutal of late. Over his last four outings covering a mere 2.2 innings he's picked up two blown saves and two loses while allowing eight runs. Yugly is right. He's had too much success with the Angels to merely be cast aside, but Angels' manager Mike Scoscia admitted that Freiri's confidence is a bit shaken so the club will go more with a matchup based 9th inning versus just blindly tossing Frieri out there for the moment. I would not drop Frieri, again he's very talented and has had a lot of success with this club since coming over in a deal from the Padres last season.
Who would I look at in the short-term to add for a few saves with the possibility of more? Looks like Dane De La Rosa would be that guy. In 50.1 innings this season DDLR has a 3.93 ERA and 1.21 WHIP along with an 8.23 K/9 mark and 2.88 K/BB ratio. He's also a strong round ball arm with a 51 percent rate this season, and that's helped him to hold batters to three big flies this season.
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT JUSTIN MORNEAU?
The Orioles appear to be in heavy pursuit of Justin Morneau. Why?
I know dude's Dad thinks he can play another 10 years as he said in a recent interview, but sorry Mr. Morneau I simply cannot agree with you. JM is batting .262 this season and over his last 231 games he has hit .265. Moreover he has hit .256 over his last 300 games. That's not good.
Over his last 300 games he's gone deep 31 times as his power has pretty much evaporated since he suffered his concussion woes. He went deep 34 times in 2006 and 31 times in 2007. He's just no longer a power hitter.
Over his last 300 games his OBP is .319. The league average during that time is .321.
Over his last 300 games his SLG is .400. The league average during that time is .410.
Sorry, but the fact is that he's been a league average hitter the past three years, and well below average for a first baseman.
As the title of this section suggests, I don’t know why anyone would want to have JM at first base right now (.262-8-53-43-0 with a .716 OPS in 374 at-bats).
Before the season started I wrote this about Torii Hunter in his Player Profile.
“Hunter will not hit .300 again in 2013... be careful not to overvalue the logo on his jersey on draft day – this is still a 37 year old who has seen his power and speed decline, and one that has no shot to replicate his batting average from his last season in Anaheim.”
Where are we at right now?
Shockingly Hunter is batting .310. When Hunter hit .313 last season that was the first time he had ever hit .300 in a season and his career began back in 1997. After a .389 BABIP last season I predicted a significant pullback. Sort of here. His BABIP has slowed to .354 this season but that's still a huge number for a guy who owns a career .310 mark. It's also odd that a guy who had NEVER had a season with a line drive rate of 20 percent in 14 years has somehow managed to post a mark of at least 21 percent as a 35, 36 and 37 year old.
His power has been moderate with 10 homers, but as I feared a return to the 20 homer level just wasn't in the cards (he hit 20 each year from 2006-2011 before slumping to 16 last season).
His speed? He stole nine bases last season. This year he's swiped two.
I was right more than wrong, but that batting average has given him solid fantasy value. I still doubt he can keep it up the final two months, but he's proved me wrong there up to this point.
FINALLY — for those of you who are also football fans, if you’re looking to dominate the competition in 2013 then check out the 2013 Fantasy Football Draft Guide that is nearly 200 pages long.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
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